Vocational Leaders Take the Church to the Community on a Daily Basis
Across the conference, some leaders are recognized with special awards for their visible role in their communities, while many others lead by example on the job and in other powerful ways.
His longtime mantra, “The stronger the community, the stronger the church,” is evident in his pattern of community involvement throughout the decades. That notable involvement landed Dr. Dick White, pastor of FUMC Quitman & Liberty UMC the impressive first-ever title of “Clergy of the Year” in January at the Greater Quitman Area Chamber of Commerce banquet at the civic center. “Everyone around me knew I was getting an award and was ushering me out to door to leave a training in Dallas and get me back to Quitman that day,” recalls Dick. “Boy was I surprise when I became the first recipient and the first award presented that night. I got top billing so I could be at the podium to pray over the meal,” he jokes.
Dick has made it a habit throughout his ministry to be visible in the community on behalf of his local congregation. “In Quitman, I was there to pray over the groundbreaking of the new hospital, for example and I was one of six asked to be on the committee that formulated the Quitman Foundation as an umbrella organization handling special funding requests related to the area.” Prior to his current appointment, Dick has sought out opportunities to take part in community events such as Rotary and Kiwanis groups and the like.
“I was blown away when I got a standing ovation at the awards dinner,” he says, “and I am honored they wanted to recognize my involvement during such a great evening.” Upon receiving the accolades, he told the crowd, “I humbly accept this award. We hope God gives us many more years at First United Methodist and Liberty Methodist.”
Additionally, Dick was thrilled to see another member of FUMC Quitman receive the award for “Physician of the Year.” Dr. Beverly Waddleton, has long served the community as a family practitioner. She voiced her appreciation, saying, “This award is very special to me. My family is from here, and the Quitman community is my extended family. I thank God for letting me be here all these years. This is my calling and why I am still on this earth.”
With longtime involvement in the community and as a local physician, Beverly was selected as the chief of staff during a time of transition for the hospital, giving her additional opportunities to be a beacon for Christ. “I feel like medicine is my calling, not just a job,” she shares, “and that I can offer patients hope in spite of a scary diagnosis as well as grief or depression.” Adds Beverly, “On many occasions, in good and bad times, patients have realized they are alive for a reason and we rejoice together, knowing only God can fill that void in our lives.”
Lifestyle Evangelism: Up Close and Personal with Rev. Cary Wilkins
“When God calls us to do ministry in a vocational role in the world, it takes on special meaning,” notes Cary Wilkins who retired as an oil and gas executive in 2010 to pursue a second career as a pastor. “The question becomes, how do we live out our faith through a principled life in an environment that is not very conducive to Christianity? It was my experience that people I worked with often commented that something about me was different,” he shares. “Others noted I was at peace with leading a large organization in a volatile industry and did not seem rattled even when having to design programs involving layoffs. My job opened up many opportunities to share how Christ gives me a peace that passes all understanding—but I always waited until they asked, so as not to be guilty of proselytizing.”
He recalls traveling with a coworker in the Netherlands, who questioned him about going to church one Sunday during their business trip. “I was able to share how faith matters to me,” notes Cary, “and I am excited to say that this man and his family eventually became active in a local church. It is rewarding to be aware of people in your life that might know Jesus in a different way due to your lifestyle evangelism.”
It was the comments of others around him that pointed Cary into fulltime ministry late in his corporate career. “I absolutely loved my oil and gas job but church friends and leaders affirmed and helped me realize God was pulling me into something bigger,” he explains. He became licensed as a local pastor in 2010 and now works as an associate at The Harvest UMC in Missouri City.
Cary can remember how he felt and acted when he did not follow Jesus in his corporate career, and how that changed when he became a believer. “You don’t have to wear a Jesus sticker on your forehead,” he adds, “people will notice, and possibly seek you out when they go through a difficult time.”